Club Journalist @markbooth_mcfc picks out five Talking Points from the 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest…
1 Just Cruising
City path into the UEFA Champions League group stages was never in doubt on Wednesday night as Pep Guardiola’s men produced an economical, professional display to win 1-0 on the night.
There were few real scares served up from a Steaua side who had been instructed to adopt a more pragmatic approach than the one that saw them overwhelmed in Bucharest last week.
Fabian Delph scored the only goal of the night on his first start of the season and that proved to be enough to maintain City’s 100% start to the season after four games.
It’s worth remembering how much was made of the fact that we would have to qualify for the Champions League via a play-off at the end of last season – that the Blues managed to do it so comfortably in the end is testament to the work undertaken in the first weeks of the Guardiola reign.
2 Second Half Improvement
Guardiola has gone on record on many occasions to express his distaste at the notion of “tiki taka”, describing it as “possession for the sake of it” and “completely pointless”.
There were echoes of these sentiments in Pep's post-match take on City’s first half performance against Steaua as he bemoaned the quality of build-up play he saw from his side.
He told journalists: “The build-up is the most important thing. If you pass, pass, with no chance, it's no good.
“There were too many people behind the ball in the first half. We were not making the right decisions. We had Stones, Kolarov and Fernando against one player. That does not make sense.
“In the second half, we were much, much better. I’m finding we’re having a lot of possession in the first halves of games but not creating enough - I don’t like that.”
Pep will be hoping his team start as they mean to go on against West Ham at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon.
3 The Draw
City will go into Pot Two of the UEFA Champions League qualifying pools, meaning they cannot draw the likes of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, Porto, Napoli or Bayer Leverkusen in the group stages.
Pot Three contains plenty of dangerous opponents such as Borussia Monchengladbach, PSV, FC Basel and Sporting CP, while AS Monaco, Besitkas or Celtic are among the teams in Pot Four.
It promises to be a fascinating draw in Monaco at 5pm (UK) as we discover which of Pot One’s domestic champions we’ll be pitted against - we’ll bring you the draw live as-it-happens, as well as reaction here on ManCity.com.
4 Proud Night
The 5-0 first-leg win gave Pep the chance to hand opportunities to youngsters from City’s academy and they all took their opportunities to shine.
Pablo Maffeo started his first competitive match for the club at right-back, while Angelino and Tosin Adarabioyo both came on immediately after Delph’s goal.
Maffeo was solid throughout and earned his manager’s praise after the game, while Adarabioyo looked like an old stager in the centre of defence and Angelino showcased his tactical flexibility operating in an advanced role after Kelechi Iheanacho was stretchered off.
In addition, Angus Gunn was named on the bench for the first time in a competitive game and will have learned a lot from the experience.
5 Kelechi Concern
The sight of Iheanacho being stretchered off after pulling up with what looked like a muscle strain was the only wrinkle in an otherwise good night for City.
However, the Nigerian took the Instagram to allay supporters’ fears after the game and seemed to walk through the mixed zone after the game with little obvious struggle.
We’ll get an update on Kelechi’s condition from Pep in his West Ham preview on Friday afternoon.